There you’ve made the sale, done the leg-work, written up the documentation, completed and submitted the export license application—then a few weeks later, hooray!

Your export license is approved. You read it cautiously, however, apprehensive about the limitations or stipulations that the agency might have attached to its authorization.

The Department of Commerce calls them ‘Conditions,’ Department of State calls them ‘Provisos,’ but the meaning is the same. Your export is good to go, provided you meet certain requirements. These conditions or provisos are issued as part of the license to the applicant.

The apprehension about provisos is because they might entail a significant restriction or reduction to your proposed export undertaking, whether goods, services, or technology.

Provisos can run the gamut

Some are only standard conditions of issuance, attached to most or all licenses. Others might be fully expected and reasonable, even easy, to accommodate. Some, however, might be unexpectedly restrictive, or over-restrictive, to your intended action, work, or delivery. Or might be difficult to understand, and require clarification from the agency.

The good news is that, if you think you have an excessively restrictive proviso, or that a proviso was given in error, or does not reflect the information given in your application, there is an appeal procedure available called a ‘Proviso Reconsideration’ request. This entails a re-submission of the license or agreement application with exactly the same information as before, but showing ‘Proviso Reconsideration’ in the purpose block.

Pointing out the predicament of your potentially problematic proviso

To this you attach a letter of explanation, in which you provide the wording of the original proviso with a statement of the problem about it. Then offer a recommendation on how the proviso should be revised, or that it should be deleted, for the reasons explained and justified in your letter. Acknowledge to yourself that the restrictive proviso might be your own fault, on account of insufficient or poorly prepared information in the original application.

Sometimes provisos are concerned with the actions of a foreign party or end-user, which you are sometimes obliged to share with the foreign party, and other times (if classified, for instance) you are required not to share.

Conditions and provisos being an integral part of the license, measures must be put in place to track and document proviso compliance. Provisos might require additional documentation or record-keeping, which must be immediately facilitated.

Lastly, the same attention must be given to any additional work, procedures, or arrangements that you said you were going to do in the original application, which may not be repeated back in an added condition on the license. If you said you needed to do it, then that was in account in approving your license.

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